New Mexico Bowl Capsule Football

In this Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018 file photo, Utah State quarterback Jordan Love (10) looks to throw the ball against Boise State in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018, in Boise, Idaho.

The Idaho Press is counting down the top 20 questions facing the Boise State football team heading into the 2019 season. The next entry in our series is question No. 15: What are the toughest games on the schedule?

The Boise State football team probably won’t be as talented this fall like in the three previous years in which they won at least 10 games and found themselves ranked in the top 25.

But they might have a better record.

The Broncos get a break this year because the unbalanced Mountain West schedule has them dropping the two best teams in the West Division from the schedule in favor of maybe the two worst teams. Boise State won’t play Fresno State, San Diego State and Nevada for the next two years and instead will play San Jose State, UNLV and Hawaii.

The Broncos lost at home to San Diego State, so they should pick up a win in that trade because a home game against Hawaii and road games at San Jose State and UNLV should all be sure wins.

Games against Florida State, Utah State and BYU would seem at first glance to be the only three really difficult games on the schedule. The Broncos should at worst go 9-3 if they lose those three games and win the rest, but they should be able to win at least one of the three and have a chance at a 10-2 regular season. Win the Mountain West championship game and a bowl game, and a 12-2 record doesn’t seem so crazy.

The opener against Florida State is certainly the most anticipated game of the year, and it’s probably going to be the hardest. Sure the Seminoles went just 5-7 last season, but this is Florida State we’re talking about. Their roster is loaded with four and five-star prospects, and they’ll surely have the talent advantage. The game is in Jacksonville but the Seminoles should still have a huge crowd advantage. It will basically be a home game. Boise State will also be breaking in a new quarterback and running back, and be filling several key holes on defense as well. It’s not the ideal opener for the Broncos.

The Utah State game is a close second, and might end up being a harder game. The Aggies have quarterback Jordan Love back to run an offense that was one of the best in the country last season. Utah State was ranked as high as No. 14 in the country last season, but the Broncos used home-field advantage to knock them off 33-24 in the final regular season game last year.

This year the game again will likely decide the Mountain Division title, but the Broncos must travel to Logan for a late-night game on Nov. 23.

The road game at BYU on Oct. 19 figures to be tough because, well, it’s a road game at BYU. The Broncos have struggled in Provo, and will have to face a Cougars team that should be much improved under second-year quarterback Zach Wilson. Boise State needed a defensive stop near the goal line on the final play of the game to escape with a win against BYU last year in Boise. The Broncos are just 1-2 in the last three trips to Provo, and this probably will be another tough one.

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Other potential stumbling blocks for the Broncos include the regular season finale at Colorado State on Nov. 29. The Broncos will have just six days following the tough road game at Utah State before playing the Rams, and will have to play on the road for the second straight week. The Broncos are the only Mountain West team finishing with two straight road games. It’s also a 1:30 p.m. kick off in Fort Collins, which gives the Broncos even less time to prepare.

Home games against Marshall and Air Force could be tricky, but the Broncos shouldn’t have much trouble with either. Other home games against Hawaii, Wyoming and New Mexico would figure to be wins, as do road games at San Jose State and UNLV.

The three toughest games are obvious: Florida State, Utah State and BYU. And if the Broncos can find a way to somehow win two of the three, they could be in store for another big season.

Countdown to Camp Questions{/span}

No. 20: Can Boise State’s injured players return to form?

No. 19: Do the linebackers have enough talent and depth to produce?

No. 18: Will Boise State’s wide receivers be a strength?

No. 17: How will playing time shake out in the secondary?

No. 16: Which true freshmen could make immediate impacts?

{span class=”print_trim”}No. 15: What are the toughest games on Boise State’s schedule?

B.J Rains has covered Boise State athletics for the Idaho Press since 2013. He is an Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball poll voter, and also contributes to KBOI-TV as a Boise State insider.

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